Diamonds in the Muck

He is not inviting. A bottom dweller, feeding on death and decay in the dark. At first he is only a twitching, tugging, gnawing sensation of menace at the end of some twine. Then, lifted inch by inch, finger over finger into the murky green fringe of surface water light, he materializes as a wrestling shadow, picking, scuttling, intent upon his work with a frayed chicken neck. Finally, scooped from the water and into the net he is all barbed scissors, stalk eyes and alien mouthparts. Cold. Ugly. Utterly foreign.

Somewhere deep in the unknowable past one of our ancestors, encouraged by little more than the behavior of other predators and an inexplicably appealing shade of blue, looked at this creature and thought… I’m going to eat that. God bless him for it. Because in a transformation that can only be described as miraculous, the gelatinous horror-show goo that fills these little monsters becomes, when steamed in a little beer and Old Bay, a clean white meat that’s soft as silk and perched impossibly between sweet and savory, rich and light. Dipped in drawn butter and tossed on your tongue, a morsel of fresh blue crab reliably inspires a quiet moment of head bowed thanks. Thanks for that first brave soul, for the infinite wonder of the natural world and of course for twine, hand nets and long days in the sun.

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2 Comments on “Diamonds in the Muck

  1. Shades of crabbing on the Jersey Shore with my father and mother in the 1950’s braving the bay in a little rowboat… but the catch was reliable and the adventure was such fun for me and my brothers.

    Enjoyed the piece enormously.

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